If days of the week had feelings, Monday just might have a complex. Monday is the dreaded first day of the week that means the weekend is over and it’s back to the real world. In pastoral ministry it is jokingly told that most pastor’s resign on Monday so they have time to rescind it before the next Sunday. (Though I would venture a guess from experience that the feeling to resign on a Monday morning is no joke. Which is a whole other article.) While not every pastor wakes up on Monday morning dreading the day, most pastors do find Monday’s to be a bit challenging from the energy standpoint. One of the facts of a pastor’s week is that “Sunday’s a coming.”
For me, I need Monday to be a productive day. Like all pastors, I find my days to be full of scheduled appointments as well as unscheduled appointments (i.e., death of a church member). And since “Sunday is coming” I tend to hear the sermon preparation clock start ticking before I go to bed on Sunday night. Also, like many pastors I am a husband and a father. So, not only do I hear the sermon preparation clock ticking, but I also am keenly aware of the desire and need to be involved in leading my family each day. And thus is the context for Monday’s likely being the most important day or me from a sermon preparation standpoint. If I get off to a good start on Monday it helps set the tone for the rest of the week being fruitful.
Let me share a few thoughts on conquering Monday’s in pastoral ministry:
Take a day off each week, but do not let it be Monday. This only prolongs the inevitable of getting started and puts you one day closer to Sunday. Leaving margin in your week for the unexpected means you need to make the most of Monday. Besides, if Monday is a low energy day for you, why would you want that do be your day off.
Know God’s priorities for you and your ministry. You can read here on how I identified Gods priorities for my life. Suffice it to say, you should schedule your daily agenda by your priorities to help you be faithful in the stewardship of your time. I am a list maker. I make a weekly list of tasks, meetings, events, etc that are on the schedule for the week. I then organize that list into daily tasks. I realize this may seem overboard to some, but it works for me. God has established priorities in my life and I want to be as faithful as possible to accomplish His work. His priorities for me help me to know what is most important and what can be delegated or even left off the list. Making a to-do list is only helpful if it organizes that which God has called you to do.
Schedule some amount of time for sermon preparation on Monday. I block all day on Monday for sermon preparation. I have already admitted to needing Monday to be the most productive day of my work week. For me that is sermon preparation. But I realize that each pastor is different in personality, temperament and responsibilities. So, you may find that larger blocks of sermon preparation time work better for you on other days. If that’s the case, then make sure that Mondays’ are productive for administration, pastoral care, et al so that you can protect those other blocks of study time. As for sermon preparation, at the very least you can read your sermon text several times, diagram the text and figure out the main idea of the text (hence the main idea of your sermon). This alone will help set the trajectory in the right direction of your sermon prep for the rest of the week.
Avoid the distractions of everything else that you could be doing. This is true of everyday, but especially of Monday if you are trying to get the week off to the best possible start. Sunday can bring a laundry list of requests from church members of things they need you to help them with or to do for them. The best way to respond to these requests is with honesty. Do not promise you will take care of it on Monday. Your Monday is already scheduled (see bullets #2 & #3). Your weekly schedule should have time for administrative tasks and pastoral ministry. These are the times you should give as your response for when you can take care of certain requests. [For task oriented people like me the temptation to mark off multiple items from the to do list can be strong. This means it takes discipline to organize one’s ministry and stay focused according to God’s priorities.]
Monday may never become the most looked forward to day of the week. But it can be the most productive day of the week. Living with the tension in pastoral ministry that “Sunday is coming” is aided by conquering Monday.